The US wants Pakistan to stay its borders with Afghanistan open for Afghan refugees, a requirement that would strain already tense relations between the 2 countries.
“So, during a place like Pakistan, it’ll be important that their borders remain open,” said a senior State Department official while briefing journalists on the new US refugee admission programme for Afghan nationals.
“Obviously, if people go north or if they are going via Iran to Turkey …(they) have a chance both to enter the country also on register with either the govt or with UNHCR,” the official added.
The new programme, announced on Monday, applies to those that worked on US-funded projects and to Afghans employed by a US-based media or non-governmental organisation (NGO).
An earlier programme, referred to as the Special Immigration Visa (SIV), covers interpreters et al. who worked for the United States government agencies, and their families.
Besides Pakistan, the US State Department has also asked Turkey to permit Afghans to remain within the country for up to 14 months before they’re resettled within us.
National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf said at an appointment in Washington in the week that arrangements should be made to stay displaced Afghans inside their country rather than pushing them into Pakistan.
“Why make them dar-ba-dar (homeless)? Make arrangements for them inside their country. Pakistan doesn’t have the capacity to require more refugees.”
The Turkish government has criticised the US decide to use third countries to resettle Afghans, saying the move would cause a “great migration crisis” within the region.
“We don’t accept the irresponsible decision taken by us without consulting our country,” the Turkish Ministry Foreign Ministry said during a statement issued in Ankara.
“If our wants to require these people to its country, it’s possible to transfer them on to their country by planes.”
There are two countries that will play a pivotal role during this resettlement plan, Iran and Pakistan. Since us doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Iran, US policy makers check out Pakistan to assist them to implement this programme.
Pakistan, however, appears reluctant to try to do so. Since 1979, Pakistan has hosted many Afghans and quite three million are permanently settled within the country. Pakistani officials argue that their economy isn’t strong enough to soak up more refugees.